Seattle’s Jesuit College Prep School Since 1891

Theology

Department Mission Statement

Grounded in the gospel call and the Jesuit tradition, religious education at Seattle Preparatory School blends theory and practice, doctrine and spirituality, academic knowledge and affective formation. Beginning with the student’s experience, this education combines the history, beliefs, and practices of the Catholic Church with a faith-building method that respects the variety of religious traditions alive in the Prep community and the world at large.


Freshman Theology Curriculum

Grade 9 Foundations in Faith (one semester)
This is an overview of Catholic Christianity, with topics including God, Faith, Jesus, Church, Sacraments, Identity and Development and St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits). Students with also explore various forms of prayer and share perspectives on personal faith experiences. (Semester-long)

Grade 9 – Collegio (one semester)
Collegio also covers the following theological and religious themes and students are awarded a semester’s worth of graded credit in Theology: Scripture, Church History, World Religions, Christian Service

Sophomore Theology Curriculum

Grade 10 - Scripture (one semester)
This course is an overview of the Christian Scriptures, which contain both the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the New Testament. We will begin with an introduction to the Bible itself: how to use it and how it came into being in the form we now have it. Students will study Scripture from many perspectives: literary, contextual, historical-critical, social and theological. Our emphasis will be contextual, not literal. (Semester-long)

Grade 10 – Collegio (one semester)
Collegio also covers the following theological and religious themes and students are awarded a semester’s worth of graded credit in Theology: Catholic Social Teaching, Global Community, Christian Service.

Junior Theology Curriculum

Grade 11 – Junior Theology: Self, Society and Theology (full year)

“Theology is faith seeking understanding” - St.Anselm

In junior year we delve more deeply, as well as broaden our understanding of what it means to be a Christian – a disciple of Christ – in light of the rich tradition of Catholic Christianity. Some of the essential questions we explore are: Who am I? Who/What is the Ultimate Reality? What does it mean to be a Catholic/Jesuit? What does it mean to be human in a similar manner as Jesus? This course combines the topics of Exploring Self (One’s Identity, Spirituality, Faith and Beliefs, Morals and Values) and Society (Service, Justice, Ethics and the Church) through a variety of theological lens. Christian Service (30 required hours), Reflection Essays and the Self Presentation are at the center of the experience in Junior Theology. (Year-long)

Senior Theology Curriculum

Grade 12 – Senior Seminars (one semester)

    All seniors are required to take a Senior Seminar second semester. This will count as a Theology credit. The seminars are multi-disciplinary, team-taught courses that attempt to challenge the student to apply what they have learned and experienced in their time here at Prep to real world issues and continued spiritual growth. Each seminar focuses on continued individual development towards The Profile of the Graduate at Graduation and challenges them to become men and women for others as they enter the next stage of their lives.

  • …and Justice for All. The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society - in economics and politics, in law and policy - directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in, succeed and influence society. With special emphasis on the Catholic Social Teaching principals of Participation, The Role of Government and Community and the Common Good, this course will evaluate social and institutional structures for their effectiveness in creating communities where all can participate and have equal opportunity to be successful, contributing members of society. Students will have the opportunity to research and present on a variety of topics regarding discrimination and justice.
  • Disease and Social Responsibility. A capstone seminar course designed to empower students to become agents for change. The course employs an interdisciplinary approach, including scientific, theological, socio-historical and ethical methodologies, to understand the proliferation and treatment of infectious diseases in the context of diverse global cultures and economies. Building on students’ broadening experiences of service through high school, they will explore justice work through advocacy for the larger human family.
  • Good and Evil. A capstone seminar course designed to help students understand the nature of humankind and apply that understanding to their own lives. The course’s interdisciplinary approach engages students in the study of Theology (especially scripture), philosophy, and literature as they attempt to answer three key questions: Are human beings inherently good or evil? How much choice do I have in answering that question? What does that mean for me in terms of how I live my life?
  • Peace Studies. This course is designed to provide a multi-disciplinary examination of peace and of the varied forms of violence and injustice that stifle it. The course assumes that in order to end situations of large-scale violence, hatred or injustice, viable peace requires more than wishful thinking and people with good hearts. It requires knowing the findings of various disciplines and best practices of experts that comprise modern peace studies as well as careful, in-depth reflection on how people who choose to reject violence can be extremely effective actors for justice and social change. The course will incorporate current events and controversies in local and global news sources as critical examples of the problems peace attempts to solve. Students will explore questions of ‘what is peace’ and ‘how do we get there’ as well as define their place in the future peace process of local and global communities. The course affirms our Catholic, Ignatian and Jesuit “faith that seeks to do justice in an ever increasingly global context.” Building peace and engaging in conflict resolution and transformation is the new citizenship education of the 21st century. The perspectives and skills of this course are useful for our citizen roles locally, nationally and globally.

    Grade 12 – Electives (each class is one semester)
  • Faith in Action – This is a hands-on planning and senior peer ministry course. It will provide leadership opportunities in the areas of liturgy, retreats, and service as well as course work in pastoral ministry.
  • Psychology of Human Relating – An overview of human psychology and Catholic Christian Anthropology with regard to the self and relationships with others. Topics include: Communication, Immediate Systems (family and friends), Larger Systems (society, culture, media), Life Choices and Sexuality.
  • East-West Meditation Practices - This course will explore various Sacred Traditions and their spiritual practices. We will experience how their teachings and meditative practices can support personal and global change and transformation. Half the class will be devoted to practicing different meditation/prayer methods and half to researching the teachings, cultures and consciousness within them and out of which they emerge. Various Christian Contemplative practices, Buddhist (Zen and Mindfulness practices), and Coast Salish Native spirituality, along with Yoga, Tai Chi, nature skills, music, and movement prayer all will be explored.
  • Ethics and Morality – Students can expect faith-based research and discussion of important contemporary ethical issues within broad social categories such as sexism, racism and ecology to name a few. Half the class will be teacher directed and half will be guided by student interest and research. In addition to what the Catholic Church teaches relative to moral decision-making and ethical principles, students will learn to explore the complexities of these and other contemporary issues and will focus on the following questions: What does it mean to be a good person? How can we hold our actions—as persons, communities and institutions—to high ethical standards? When, how and in what ways do we act ethically on behalf of others and the principles we espouse?
  • World Religions This course seeks to undertake the important goal of understanding, collaborating and dialoguing with other religious traditions, as expressed in Nostra Aetate (“In our time”), the Vatican Council II document Declaration on the Relation of the Church with non-Christian Religions. By the end of this course the student should come away with a strong understanding of the basic beliefs of six world religions and how they compare and contrast to Catholic Christianity, thus enabling the student to follow the Church’s Declaration with both knowledge and empathy.

meet the department chair


Deana Duke McNeill
began teaching at Seattle Prep in 2006. Her educational background includes a BA in History (1986) and a MA in International Studies (2002) from the University of Washington. She endeavors as much as possible to combine her love of teaching with her love of travel and has participated in several study abroad and service immersion trips, traveling independently and with students, to a variety of countries including: the Dominican Republic, Israel/Palestine, China, much of Western Europe and Australia. She is the mother of two, grandmother of three and hopes to continue to work with and be inspired by Prep students for a long time to come